Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

According to a recent poll, most Americans own a pet, including about 35% who have more than one.

Understanding the distinctions between service animals, emotional support animals (ESAs), and pets is crucial for landlords. This knowledge ensures compliance with housing regulations and fosters a supportive environment for all tenants.

In this guide, we'll explain the nuances behind animals in your rental property. From the basic definitions to tenant's rights and your legal obligations, we've got you covered. Read on to learn more.

Service Animals Defined

Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. These animals are not just pets. They serve as essential aids that offer physical and emotional support, and their roles include the following:

  • Guiding the blind
  • Alerting the deaf
  • Pulling wheelchairs
  • Assisting with mobility
  • Alerting to seizures
  • Calming with PTSD
  • Reminding to take medication
  • Interrupting compulsive behaviors
  • Detecting allergens
  • Retrieving objects

Recognizing the role of service animals and the rights of their owners under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is fundamental for landlords. Failing to adhere to the guidelines can lead to a range of consequences, including hefty fines.

The Role of Emotional Support Animals

Unlike service animals, ESAs provide comfort and emotional support to individuals suffering from mental or emotional conditions. They are not required to have specific training.

Landlords should understand that ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act, ensuring individuals can live with their ESAs regardless of pet policies.

Pets: A General Overview

Pets, while providing companionship and joy, do not have the same legal protections as service animals or ESAs. Landlords can implement pet policies, including restrictions and fees, as long as they do not discriminate against service animals or ESAs.

If you do allow pets on your property, regular property inspections are a must. These checks allow you to keep track of your property's condition and address any issues before they escalate.

Legal Considerations for Landlords

Adhering to the ADA and Fair Housing Act is non-negotiable for landlords. It's essential to know when and how to ask for documentation without violating tenant rights.

Understanding these legal frameworks helps in creating policies that accommodate service animals and ESAs while managing a pet-friendly property.

Creating a Harmonious Living Environment

Clear policies and communication strategies are key to managing a property that welcomes service animals, ESAs, and pets. Providing guidelines and support ensures a positive living environment for all tenants. This fosters a sense of community and respect.

Landlord 101: Support Animals Explained

For landlords, differentiating between service animals, support animals, and pets is more than a legal requirement. It's a step towards building an inclusive and welcoming community. By embracing these distinctions and adhering to legal standards, landlords can create harmonious living spaces that respect the needs of all tenants.

Here at PMI South Sound, we understand the importance of property management in Tacoma. As part of a franchise with over 20 years of experience in helping landlords, we're you're first call for handling animals on your property, plus much more. Reach out now to find out how we can help you.